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The Teacher Tip

Strengthen your Students’ Public Speaking Skills

April 10, 2018

Adapted from The English Teacher’s Companion, Fourth Edition by Jim Burke. 

What can we do to ensure students succeed when speaking in groups or to an audience? In short, establish norms for a safe environment and enforce them clearly and consistently. Such standards include:

  • Do not do anything yourself that students, while speaking, would interpret as ignoring them: be visibly present to them
  • Demystify the performance: tell students what they need to do and clarify expectations, including those regarding appropriate behavior and attire
  • Ensure that everyone gets respect, attention, and applause
  • Provide models (live, YouTube, videos of past students)
  • Give students ample time to prepare and rehearse
  • Assign a productive role or appropriate task to those students who must listen
  • Ask students to double-check any technology they will use beforehand

To learn more about The English Teacher’s Companion, Fourth Edition, visit 

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